New funding available for private developers to help kick start infrastructure and housing projects.
The government said the Growing Places Fund will also target projects that have been difficult to get off the ground or stalled by red tape, enabling the infrastructure to be built that will create jobs and new homes in the future.
The fund will be administered by Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) who will decide what to prioritise at a local level and offer funding to developers in their area, making it easier for projects to get off the ground.
Signalling its intent to move quickly, the government has indicated all £500 million of the funding will be allocated from the end of January 2012.
Communities secretary Eric Pickles said: “The £500 million Growing Places Fund will unlock much-needed local infrastructure and get the homes we need built.
It will be Local Enterprise Partnerships, made up of the people and businesses who know their local areas best, who will decide where this cash boost will be spent. I now want to see these partnerships coming together and finding innovative ways to unlock local sites and help get Britain building again.”
Danny Alexander, chief secretary to the Treasury said: “The half a billion pound Growing Places fund will kick start local developments across the country.
This is a flexible fix-it fund that will make a real difference on the ground, improving the lives of local residents and boosting the local economy. From building strategic link roads to reducing congestion, the investment will set businesses free and create jobs.”
Hilary Benn, Labour’s shadow communities and local government secretary, believes the GPF is a huge admission that abolishing the regional development agencies (RDAs) was a mistake.
He said: “If this funding is simply to help the new local enterprise partnerships do some of the work that was previously done by the RDAs unlocking and coordinating investment projects, but with much less funding, then people will feel short-changed.”
He added: “And given this Conservative-led government’s history of failure to get money to businesses that need it through the other schemes they’ve announced and reannounced, they should make sure that this time the money speedily gets to the local authorities, businesses and entrepreneurs who will be at the heart of the economic recovery the country desperately needs.”
Details of how to apply for a share of the £500 million Growing Places Fund can be found here.